Los Angeles Clippers: NBA season preview, roster and schedule 2018
After overhauling their roster and losing point god Chris Paul, are the Clippers still capable of making the playoffs in the Western Conference this season?
Arrivals: Danilo Gallinari, Patrick Beverley, Sam Dekker, Lou Williams, Milos Teodosic, Jawun Evans, Montrezl Harrell, DeAndre Liggins, Marshall Plumlee, Willie Reed, Sindarius Thornwell
Departures: Chris Paul, Paul Pierce, J.J. Redick, Marreese Speights, Alan Anderson, Brandon Bass, Jamal Crawford, Raymond Felton, Luc Mbah a Moute, Diamond Stone
It was an end of an era for the Clippers. Chris Paul, arguably the best player in franchise history and catalyst of their emergence as a top contender in the West over the last few years, wanted out and was planning on exercising his early termination option. However, the Clips did very well to swing a terrific deal with the Houston Rockets and landed an impressive haul for their outgoing point guard.
Patrick Beverley is every bit the defender Paul has been at the point guard position, so there won’t be too much drop off on that end of the floor. Lou Williams is one of the best sixth men in the league. Meanwhile, Sam Dekker and Montrezl Harrell are promising young pieces that can at least be part of an NBA rotation.
The Clips also signed Serbian point guard Milos Teodosic, who has long been considered one of the best players never to play in the NBA. The 30-year-old is an outstanding passer and playmaker, which should make up somewhat for the loss of Paul.
Teodosic will be part of a completely overhauled Clippers bench after they got rid of sixth man Jamal Crawford and opted not to re-sign a handful of their veteran free agents.
Projected Depth Chart
C – DeAndre Jordan / Willie Reed
PF – Blake Griffin / Montrezl Harrell / Brice Johnson
SF – Danilo Gallinari / Sam Dekker / Wesley Johnson
SG – Austin Rivers / Lou Williams / Sindarius Thornwell
PG – Patrick Beverley / Milos Teodosic / Jawun Evans
Even with Paul no longer in the picture, the Clippers still have the pieces to be an above-average offense. Blake Griffin, when healthy, is a top-five power forward in the league. Not only can he fill it up by creating his own offense, he’s also one of the best playmaking big men in the game today. He should thrive in his new role as the full-time facilitator of the Clippers offense.
DeAndre Jordan is still a very dangerous roll man even without Paul as a pick-and-roll partner. Meanwhile, Danilo Gallinari is easily the best small forward the Clippers have had in the Doc Rivers era. He’ll provide some much-needed shooting from the wing, as well as a dash of playmaking.
Losing a top player like Paul will obviously be hard to replace, but with Williams and Teodosic coming off the bench, the Clippers should still have productive pieces in the backcourt to put together an effective offense.
One of the big strengths the Clippers had over the past few years was the cohesion and understanding their “Big Four” of Paul, Griffin, Jordan, and J.J. Redick had on both ends of the floor.
That’s gone now with the backcourt half of that foursome no longer with the team. And with two-thirds of the team basically brand new, it’ll take some time for the Clips to establish that chemistry with one another.
The other big worry on the team will be the health of their two stars, Griffin and Gallinari. Both have notable injury histories, and losing one or both for an extended period of time could end up being disastrous for the team.
Player to Watch – Milos Teodosic
Die-hard basketball fans have been waiting for quite some time to see Teodosic in the NBA. And while the Serbian is probably a little bit past his prime now at age 30, he should still be a capable contributor off the bench.
Despite his lack of elite athleticism, Teodosic has been able to carve out quite a career for himself over in Europe as well as for his national team. He’s just a magician with the ball, and an expert on the pick-and-roll. Watching him work the PNR with DeAndre Jordan should be fun and should result in a number of highlight-reel alley-oop slams.
Sure, he’ll be a turnstile on defense but his failures on that end of the floor could potentially be equally as entertaining as his mastery on the offensive end.
1 Oct 19, 2017 @ Los Angeles Lakers
2 Oct 21, 2017 vs. Phoenix Suns
3 Oct 24, 2017 vs. Utah Jazz
4 Oct 26, 2017 @ Portland Trail Blazers
5 Oct 28, 2017 vs. Detroit Pistons
6 Oct 30, 2017 vs. Golden State Warriors
7 Nov 1, 2017 vs. Dallas Mavericks
8 Nov 4, 2017 vs. Memphis Grizzlies
9 Nov 5, 2017 vs. Miami Heat
10 Nov 7, 2017 @ San Antonio Spurs
11 Nov 10, 2017 @ Oklahoma City Thunder
12 Nov 11, 2017 @ New Orleans Pelicans
13 Nov 13, 2017 vs. Philadelphia 76ers
14 Nov 17, 2017 @ Cleveland Cavaliers
15 Nov 18, 2017 @ Charlotte Hornets
16 Nov 20, 2017 @ New York Knicks
17 Nov 22, 2017 @ Atlanta Hawks
18 Nov 25, 2017 @ Sacramento Kings
19 Nov 27, 2017 vs. Los Angeles Lakers
20 Nov 30, 2017 vs. Utah Jazz
21 Dec 2, 2017 @ Dallas Mavericks
22 Dec 3, 2017 @ Minnesota Timberwolves
23 Dec 6, 2017 vs. Minnesota Timberwolves
24 Dec 9, 2017 vs. Washington Wizards
25 Dec 11, 2017 vs. Toronto Raptors
26 Dec 13, 2017 @ Orlando Magic
27 Dec 15, 2017 @ Washington Wizards
28 Dec 16, 2017 @ Miami Heat
29 Dec 18, 2017 @ San Antonio Spurs
30 Dec 20, 2017 vs. Phoenix Suns
31 Dec 22, 2017 @ Houston Rockets
32 Dec 23, 2017 @ Memphis Grizzlies
33 Dec 26, 2017 vs. Sacramento Kings
34 Dec 29, 2017 @ Los Angeles Lakers
35 Dec 31, 2017 vs. Charlotte Hornets
36 Jan 2, 2018 vs. Memphis Grizzlies
37 Jan 4, 2018 vs. Oklahoma City Thunder
38 Jan 6, 2018 vs. Golden State WarriorS
39 Jan 8, 2018 vs. Atlanta Hawks
40 Jan 10, 2018 @ Golden State Warriors
41 Jan 11, 2018 @ Sacramento Kings
42 Jan 13, 2018 vs. Sacramento Kings
43 Jan 15, 2018 vs. Houston Rockets
44 Jan 17, 2018 vs. Denver Nuggets
45 Jan 20, 2018 @ Utah Jazz
46 Jan 22, 2018 vs. Minnesota Timberwolves
47 Jan 24, 2018 vs. Boston Celtics
48 Jan 26, 2018 @ Memphis Grizzlies
49 Jan 28, 2018 @ New Orleans Pelicans
50 Jan 30, 2018 vs. Portland Trail Blazers
51 Feb 3, 2018 vs. Chicago Bulls
52 Feb 5, 2018 vs. Dallas Mavericks
53 Feb 9, 2018 @ Detroit Pistons
54 Feb 10, 2018 @ Philadelphia 76ers
55 Feb 12, 2018 @ Brooklyn Nets
56 Feb 14, 2018 @ Boston Celtics
57 Feb 22, 2018 @ Golden State Warriors
58 Feb 23, 2018 @ Phoenix Suns
59 Feb 27, 2018 @ Denver Nuggets
60 Feb 28, 2018 vs. Houston Rockets
61 Mar 2, 2018 vs. New York Knicks
62 Mar 4, 2018 vs. Brooklyn Nets
63 Mar 6, 2018 vs. New Orleans Pelicans
64 Mar 9, 2018 vs. Cleveland Cavaliers
65 Mar 10, 2018 vs. Orlando Magic
66 Mar 13, 2018 @ Chicago Bulls
67 Mar 15, 2018 @ Houston Rockets
68 Mar 16, 2018 @ Oklahoma City Thunder
69 Mar 18, 2018 vs. Portland Trail Blazers
70 Mar 20, 2018 @ Minnesota Timberwolves
71 Mar 21, 2018 @ Milwaukee Bucks
72 Mar 23, 2018 @ Indiana Pacers
73 Mar 25, 2018 @ Toronto Raptors
74 Mar 27, 2018 vs. Milwaukee Bucks
75 Mar 28, 2018 @ Phoenix Suns
76 Mar 30, 2018 @ Portland Trail Blazers
77 Apr 1, 2018 vs. Indiana Pacers
78 Apr 3, 2018 vs. San Antonio Spurs
79 Apr 5, 2018 @ Utah Jazz
80 Apr 7, 2018 vs. Denver Nuggets
81 Apr 9, 2018 vs. New Orleans Pelicans
82 Apr 11, 2018 vs. Los Angeles Lakers
The fate of the Clippers hinges on the health of their stars. If Griffin and Gallo are healthy and on the court for around 70 games, they stand a strong chance of landing one of the bottom-level playoff spots in the West. Chances are high that both fall a bit short of that mark, but they play just enough to squeak into a seven- or eight-seed with around 43-45 wins.
What predictions do you have for the Clippers this season? Comment below!